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NORTH BRADDOCK (KDKA) — A couple has been taken into police custody and charged after their toddler was found wandering alone in North Braddock on Thursday morning.
According to Allegheny County officials, 39-year-old Athena Coffey is facing charges of reckless endangerment and endangering the welfare of a child. The boy’s father, 39-year-old Joel Coffey, was taken into custody later in the day.
A resident in the area found the boy at Shaver Way and Sheridan Street around 8:40 a.m.
The resident held the toddler until police arrived.
KDKA’s Brenda Waters Reports:
Officers searched the area, but initially were unable to find the child’s parents.
So the 3-year-old boy was taken to the Braddock Hills Police station before being taken by the Office of Children, Youth and Families. Police say he appeared to be in good health and was a “happy and cheerful kid.”
He was clothed, wearing a jacket and a sweatshirt.
Police officers were able to determine where the child lives, but didn’t find his parents at the home on Grandview Avenue. Police believe they lived in a second-floor apartment.
“Once we brought the child back to the station, we contacted the news, put his photo out, and once we did that, we were able to get some hits from the local community, who advised us that the house, that the residence was possibly 1430 Grandview Avenue,” said Chief Dean Helinski, of Braddock Hills Police.
Officers searched the home around 11:45 a.m. and say it was in deplorable condition.
“There was urine in a cup, feces in the toilet that has been there for months, drug paraphernalia all through the house,” Acting North Braddock Police Chief Issac Daniele said.
According to police, the apartment was littered with hypodermic needles, empty heroin stamp bags and garbage. There was no heat in the apartment, no running water and no food in the refrigerator.
The stench in the apartment was so bad, police said they gagged when they were inside.
North Braddock officials described the couple as squatters.
“My code enforcement officer said there should have been nobody living there in that top floor apartment,” said Chief Daniele.
Authorities say officers were able to track down the boy’s mother through outreach from community members. She was taken to the Braddock Hills Police Station.
KDKA’s Brenda Waters: “What happened this morning?”
Coffey: “I went to the doctor’s and stopped at the store, and found out my son was not with his father.”
The boy’s mother was being held in the Allegheny County Jail.